This is a beautiful old small woven Yam Mask from the Abelam Tribe of Wosera area of Papua New Guinea. One of the major focuses of ceremonial life among the Abelam people is the competitive growth and exchange of long yams. The Abelam cultivate two distinct categories of yams—a small variety used as ordinary food and long yams, massive tubers that can be as much as twelve feet long. A man’s social status is determined largely by his success in growing long yams. Each man has a permanent exchange partner to whom he ceremonially presents his largest yams following the annual harvest, later receiving those of his rival in return. Men who are consistently able to give their partners longer yams than they receive gain great prestige. Lavishly adorned for the presentation ceremony, the finest long yams are essentially transformed into human images, decorated in the manner of men in full ceremonial regalia. The large decorated yams are believed to be live embodiment's of the ancestors and the masks play a central role in representing the spiritual beings. Power and status are directly related to the size of the yam and gender is prescribed to each based on their straightness and protrusions. Men weave the yam masks with human and animal characteristics and then typically cover them with clay pigment and dyes. A masterful weaver will produce a mask that is tightly woven, clear in form and idea and that has a visual presence that easily conveys the spirit of the ancestor. The application of paint animates the finished mask; paint is the trans-formative ingredient that changes the status of the mask from an inanimate thing to living spirit. This mask is a unique example of Papua New Guinea art and the meaning it has in their lives. A perfect addition for your or your collection. This was collected in the field and shows age.
Late 20-th Century
COMES ON STAND
13 Inches Tall
16 3/4 Inches Tall on Stand
4 Inches Wide
5 Inches Deep
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